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Homeopathy for Serious Acute Illness

Yes, it works! And Bryonia is one remedy to remember.

Many people use homeopathy as their primary form of health care. Sometimes, however,
when I check in with a patient after I've prescribed a remedy for them, they
will tell me, "I didn't take that remedy after all. I ended up turning to antibiotics
because I didn't want to fool around." That is, they feared their acute condition
was too serious for homeopathic treatment.
     Because I believe that there is a time and place
for every form of medical treatment and that only the individual can decide which
form is best for them, I support my patients in their choices. At the same time,
I try to educate them that homeopathy can, in fact, be extremely effective in
the treatment of people with serious acute illnesses. More than twenty-five years
of practice confirms this for me. Equally impressive is the fact that we have
never had to take any homeopathic medicine off the market because of newly discovered
side effects. New remedies may be added to the homeopathic Pharmacopoeia from
time to time, but the remedies that were proven by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the
early 1800s are as efficacious today as they were then.

Worse motion, better pressure
One example is Bryonia alba, a homeopathic remedy prepared from the root
of the White Bryony or Wild Hops plant, which was introduced into practice in
1816. Any beginning student of homeopathy, whether they are a professional or
a home prescriber, learns the keynote indications of Bryonia, as it is
a commonly used remedy that can address many different acute illnesses.
     The patient needing Bryonia has pains that
are worse from motion. The patient becomes irritable from the slightest movement,
whether from moving their own body or from being jarred. The pains are ameliorated
by the application of pressure, so the patient may lie perfectly still on the
painful part to maintain pressure. Bryonia is known for the treatment
of inflammatory conditions, especially those that may affect the head, chest,
abdomen, or joints—if the above unique indications for Bryonia are
     In the following three examples from my practice,
you can see how Bryonia played an important role in resolving serious
acute illness.

A friend with peritonitis
"William," a friend of mine, was in the hospital recovering from abdominal surgery.
Unfortunately, he had developed peritonitis, a serious complication of abdominal
surgery when the membrane lining the abdominal cavity becomes inflamed and infected.
His physicians were worried and considering more surgery. When I visited William,
I found him lying on his back in the hospital bed with his knees bent. Despite
intravenous pain medication and antibiotics, he was in great pain. He lay quietly,
answering briefly when spoken to, hardly moving. When William's wife saw that
I would be spending the afternoon with him, she felt comfortable enough to leave
to do some errands. As she gently removed her handbag from the foot of her husband's
bed, William sat up a bit and yelled, "Why do you have to shake the bed like
that?" He then lay back, returning to his quiet, motionless state.
     J.T. Kent in his Lectures on Homeopathic Materia
provided the following description of a Bryonia patient, which
is also a perfect picture of William's condition: "With the exception of the
abdominal and stomach pains, the Bryonia pains are better from pressure.
The Bryonia patient with the inflammatory conditions will often be seen
lying perfectly quiet in bed with the knees drawn up; lying with the limbs flexed
in order to relax the abdominal muscles; he does not want to be talked to, does
not want to think; every movement is painful, and increases the fever and often
causes alternation of chilliness with heat; high fever."
     In addition, my friend was suffering from obstinate
constipation, another Bryonia symptom. I gave William a dose of Bryonia 1M,
and within 15 minutes he gradually stretched out his legs, became very comfortable,
and started to chat cheerfully. At about the same time, he had an urge to stool,
and assisted by a nurse, was able to hobble to the bathroom where he had an easy
bowel movement. Back in bed about a half hour later, I noticed that he had begun
to bend his knees again and become less talkative. The pain had returned. I gave
him another dose of Bryonia 1M, and once again his legs relaxed and he
became comfortable. From then on, his health continued to improve. The pain did
not return, the peritonitis resolved, and within a few days he was released from
the hospital in good health. It is interesting to note that Bryonia was
able to act despite antibiotics and pain medication.

A case of meningitis
A 43-year-old man had been suffering from severe viral meningitis (inflammation
of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) not associated with any
other condition. Since he lived a great distance from my office, his wife told
me about his condition by phone. She reported that for the past month, her husband
had been lying quietly in his bed in a darkened room, with excruciating head
and neck pain. He was continually applying pressure to his head in one way or
another. He had lost a great deal of weight because he couldn't eat much. Several
medical specialists had been unable to provide him with relief, and there was
great concern, both because of the prolonged nature of the situation and the
intensity of the pain.
     I didn't know if homeopathy could help this man
but figured it was worth a try. I recommended Bryonia 1M. His wife called
me later to report the following: within 15 minutes of taking a dose, her husband
sat up in bed. Later that same day, he was shuffling around the bedroom. When
he started to feel the headache becoming intense again, he took another dose
of Bryonia 1M. The next morning he woke feeling almost normal and ate
a hearty breakfast. One day later, he felt totally better and back to normal.
After this patient had suffered for a full month with intense pain and prostration,
homeopathy had resolved the condition within two days!

A woman with pericarditis
"Nancy," a 46-year-old woman, developed sudden severe chest pains one night.
They continued until morning, at which point she telephoned me. Because of the
severity of the pains, I referred her to the Emergency Room for a diagnostic
work-up. Several hours later, she called to report that she had received a diagnosis
of pericarditis of unknown origin—which is inflammation of the sac surrounding
the heart. The doctor forecast many days of pain and bedrest; she was sent home
and told to take Motrin as needed. Pericarditis can be a life-threatening problem.
It may be viral or bacterial in origin, and it typically lasts anywhere from
two weeks to three months.
     Nancy reported that the pains were much worse from
the slightest motion including when she inhaled, and they were better when she
applied pressure to her chest. Bryonia was the indicated remedy. I would
typically have prescribed it in a high potency like 1M; but because she lived
far from my office and she had Bryonia 30c at home, I suggested she take
Bryonia 30c.
     When I called Nancy the next day to see how she
was doing, I was told that she was "out traveling." Concerned, I called her on
her cell phone. My patient answered with a laugh and said that by bedtime of
the previous day, she was 60% better. She had taken three doses of Bryonia 30c
approximately three hours apart and had felt increased relief with each dose.
When she woke in the middle of the night, she was 80% better and by morning she
was 95% better and ready to travel!

No fooling
These real-life examples reveal homeopathy's ability to deal quickly and effectively
with serious acute conditions, even in cases that are not responding well to
conventional medicine. Fooling around if you stick with homeopathy? Not on your

Goodman-Herrick, ND, DHANP, has been in private practice for more than 25 years.
She has taught at the NCH Summer School, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine,
and the University of Bridgeport, and has been a board member of the Homeopathic
Academy of Naturopathic Physicians. She practices in New York City, Park Slope,
NY, and Weston, CT, and can be reached at 203-256-9091 or